OVERVIEWSyffa Temet Kai
The peerless soldier walks by righteous will,
he observes the dealings of the people,
as a warrior observes the stance of his enemy.
Consider justice, duty, and integrity,
and commit fully to your decisions.
The peerless soldier fears nothing,
he neither throws his life away,
not preserves it in an eggshell.
Stride into battle with consideration,
and never hesitate in your strike.
The peerless soldier abhors torture and needless death,
these things are without honor or principle,
and unprofitable to yourself and your contractor.
Cultivate compassion and benevolence,
and strike down only what offends you.
The peerless soldier strikes without remorse,
he makes no hollow promises or retractions,
his will and his action coincide exactly.
Let nothing stop you from performing your duty,
the world must break to accommodate your will.
The peerless soldier is responsible for his deeds,
his actions and their consequences,
he is bound to the Way of the Syffim only.
Your blade is bought and sold,
but your will is free from all restriction.
The Fighters Guild is an organization chartered by the Empire to regulate the hiring and training of mercenary soldiers. In Cyrodiil’s complicated political climate, the Guild is a necessary neutral force which can operate in nearly all domains without the restrictions of the Legion or the allegiance issues of guard chapters and private militias.
To the common people, the Guild provides capable, professional mercenaries who can act as guards, pest control, escorts, etc. To its own members, the Guild provides a profitable monopoly, a social support network for the old and the infirm, and a place for the study and practice of martial arts.
The Guild is active across Tamriel, though it is most well-established in its province of origin. Unlike Morrowind, where it is a new and foreign actor, the Cyrodiilic Guild is entrenched in the traditions and power structure of the Empire. Guild leadership consists of a strong hierarchy that favors old Imperial guild-families, warrior dynasties with ties to the Empire and the ruling aristocracy. This goes double for the eastern guildhalls, who still adhere to the ancient precepts of the Syffa Temet Kai, the Akaviri code of conduct on which the Guild was founded.
Nevertheless, the Fighters Guild is still one of the most open and welcoming organizations to foreign provincials, especially Orcs, Beastmen, Dunmer, and other races that are looked upon with suspicion in civilized Imperial society. It provides one of the few reliable paths to social advancement for the poor and the provincial, provided they are willing to risk their lives attaining it.
The Fighters Guild originated with the military campaigns of the Akaviri Potentate Versidue-Shaie in 2E 283. Faced with widespread revolt against the reign of the Potentates, Versidue declared universal martial law, ordering all local lords to disband their armies. It took thirty-seven years to defeat the last provincial militia. By then, the Legion was battle-weary, the treasury was empty, and the pacified districts were defenseless against the hordes of bandits and deserters this war had brought forth.
The Potentate was approached by his kinsman, Dinieras-Ves “the Iron”, a veteran of the Dragonguard. Accompanied by a small company of experienced soldiers, Dinieras-Ves proposed the founding of an organization of warriors-for-hire (based on a similar institution in Akavir) who could operate across the Empire without ties of fealty to local powers. A neutral force without the civil obligations of the Legion, the so-called Syffim (‘soldiers’) could support themselves with fees, even tithing part of their profits to the Empire to refill the treasury.
Despite being yet another power grab of the Akaviri, the impartial and proficient Tsaesci sword-masters proved quite popular to a population used to dealing with fickle, corrupt, and ill-trained guards. Originally intended as small, mobile companies consisting entirely of Tsaesci, the demand for these services caused Dinieras to open the ranks further, first to Nords and Akaviri-blooded Nibenese, and later to all races. This obligated the Tsaesci to organize training in the martial arts for members who would otherwise tarnish their reputation, which in turn caused entrepreneurial members to offer training and membership to other outsiders.
By 2E 321, this model organization had proved its effectiveness throughout Tamriel, gaining support and the attention of other professional organizations such as the Mages Guild. By the end of the year, the first Guilds Act was ratified, renaming the Syffim to the Fighters Guild, the name under which they had become known to the populace.
Their military monopoly was short-lived. Only three years later, Versidue’s weak-willed successor Savirien-Chorak allowed the provincial powers to reconstitute their militias. Dinieras-Ves disappeared during a sojourn into the jungle, and his successor was fell victim to a political purge. During the Second Interregnum, the Guild fell apart into local chapters, with members even fighting against each other in the Pretender Wars. Partial unification would wait until the reign of Uriel I, but despite his best efforts, the Guild chapters were only reunited along provincial borders, and the supreme authority of the Master in Cyrodiil remains ceremonial only.
Today, the Guild enjoys a profitable monopoly and a great number of business opportunities. The Legion’s deployment to the provinces has created ample work in Cyrodiil. Some Guild members have profited from this situation by ransoming their services, amassing large fortunes in a short time and using their newfound wealth to sponsor illicit sub-companies or buying cushy titles in the Imperial government. This has led to tensions with less fortunate members, outsiders, and the Akaviri-blooded old guard.
Outside of Cyrodiil, the Guild fares less well: the newly founded Morrowind and Black Marsh chapters struggle with corruption and association with unseemly elements, while the Skyrim, High Rock and Hammerfell chapters have failed to protect their monopolies from local mercenary companies. The Valenwood chapter is shuttered entirely after a collapse of leadership over obscure, possibly illegal activities. So far, these events are of little importance to the Cyrodiil chapter, which continues to reap the benefits of an unstable climate.
Business: the Fighters Guild is a business venture first of all. More so than in the other provinces, the Guild is a way for members to build profitable careers and establish themselves as influential, respected citizens. Within its structure, individual warriors compete with each other for contracts and the patronage of their superiors, wealthy merchants and nobles. Wealthy and powerful members tend to operate outside of the Guild hierarchy, subverting it for their own ends.
Hierarchy: unlike some chapters, the Cyrodiil Guild has a clear, well-established hierarchy. Guild members answer to their stewards, who answer to the Master in the Imperial City. The upper ranks attach little importance to shows of strength in determining rank progression: old blood and political connections prevail. Rank progression past a certain point is carefully controlled, and aspirants must pay lip-service to the old guard and the Syffim Way before progressing.
Akaviri code of conduct: almost forgotten by chapters outside of Cyrodiil, the original founding codes of the Syffim still hold sway in the east. Progression in the upper ranks is almost impossible without answering to the Syffa Temet Kai, which is still scrupulously followed by the Akaviri-blooded stewards of the Nibenese guildhalls. Advanced martial arts training is taught in warrior schools in the Imperial City, Ato, and Mir Corrup, who wrap their teachings in elaborate ritual and philosophies. This is exemplified by the Imperial Akaviri Theatre in the capital, where Guild initiation takes the shape of an extravagant costumed combat ritual-performance.
Provincials: despite their claims of openness and tolerance, many paths in Imperial society are still closed off for provincial immigrants. This goes double for races traditionally considered uncivilized, violent or barbaric, such as Orcs, Khajiit, Bosmer, Argonians, or Dunmer. The Fighters Guild is one of the few organizations that welcomes these races and even scouts for talent among them, leading to an overrepresentation in the lower ranks.
Elitism: as an old and well-established organization, the Guild tends to be picky about its potential members. There are strict quota on the number of new recruits per year, and many guildhalls favor the children of existing members. Some families train their children from a young age with the intention of continuing their legacy. Only a handful of stewards will consider membership out of the blue, and it is very difficult for an outsider to gain any traction in the upper ranks.
The Fighters Guild maintains nine major guildhalls across Cyrodiil, located in Anvil, Bravil, Bruma, Cheydinhal, Chorrol, the Imperial City, Kvatch, Leyawiin, and Skingrad. Each guildhall offers accommodations to members: trainers, beds, storage space, merchants, smiths, and assignments. Guildhalls are governed by Guild stewards of Champion or Guardian rank. They handle contracts, initiation, faction advancement, and expulsions. Most guildhalls are selective about their members: at the beginning of the questline, only three guilds offer quests and advancement.
In addition to the guildhalls, the Guild also maintains outposts and offices in smaller settlements, to accommodate its members and clients. These rest stops do not usually offer quests in themselves, but may be associated with a nearby quest hub. They do offer beds and a limited number of services. Business offices can be found in Sutch, Sarchal, Artemon, Cephoriad, Mir Corrup, and Ato. Some of these locations are also connected to warrior schools. Of special note is the Imperial Akaviri Theatre in the Imperial City, whose initiation rituals precedes acceptance into the eastern guildhalls.
The Fighters Guild is on good terms with the Imperial Legion, Imperial Cult, the East Empire Company, and the Mages Guild. They have a professional relationship with the Imperial Curia, and maintain good relations with the Hierophants due to patronage and shared Akaviri heritage. Their working relation with the Colo-Nords is strained, since most Colo-Nordic Lords prefer to maintain their own militias and see mercenary activity on their lands as a breach of privilege.
The Fighters Guild also has a very good relationship with the other provincial chapters. All other factions are not enough important for them to have a unified opinion about.
At the start, only three guildhalls are willing to accept new members: Anvil, Chorrol, and Skingrad. These each offer six or more miscellaneous rookie quests taking place in their local area. This is pretty normal stuff, comparable to the Guild quests in Vvardenfell.
After attaining rank 4 or 5, the player is directed to the Kvatch guildhall which offers a more story-driven series of quests that range across Colovia. The theme of this questline is the growing power of some influential members who organize mercenary corps outside of the normal hierarchy. The player can help cripple these ambitious members, or ally with them to disenfranchise the steward in Kvatch.
After the Kvatch questline, the player is invited by the Master of the Guild to the Imperial City. Along with other promising talent, they are sent to the Imperial Akaviri Theatre to take part in an orchestrated combat ritual/play to test their strength: the Courtship of the Red Bridge. Finishing the theatre quest will open up assignments in the eastern guildhalls: Bravil, Bruma, Cheydinhal, and Leyawiin.
Besides common tasks, some of these new quests offer the option to behave in accordance to the Syffim code of conduct. A traditionalist group within the Guild leaderhsip will always resist the player’s advancement for not being born into the old power structure and the Akaviri ways - the Master of the Guild being at the heart of this group. Rejecting their tenets will give the support of the modern, business-oriented wing of the faction, while adhering to the spirit of the code will give the support of more open-minded Akaviri-blooded stewards.
Throughout the Nibenese assignments, hints are dropped in regards to the final questline: the fate of Dinieras-Ves, the Guild founder. Dinieras disappeared into the jungle centuries ago, and his lost artefacts and words of wisdom are coveted artefacts for members of the Guild. Some even claim that he is still alive, sustained by his immortal vampire Tsaesci blood.
After completing these quests/attaining a suitable ranks, the player is asked to come to the Imperial City guildhall by his allies in either sub-faction. Guild leadership has received confirmation of Dinieras-Ves last known hideout/sighting, deep in the forbidden eastern jungles. The Master of the Guild is organizing an expedition to find him, and the player’s allies wish to organize a counter-expedition. The final quests involve gathering your allies and traversing the jungle, looking for a certain ruin using unclear direction.
Upon arriving at the scene, Dinieras-Ves has already killed the Master of the Guild, deeming him unworthy. The can talk to Dinieras, either affirming or rejecting his philosophy. Either path leads to a final ritual fight, Dinieras blathering about his duties and the Syffim Way in an alien, Tsaesci-minded way. The player kills Dinieras and takes his sweet, sweet sword. On returning to the Imperial City, they become the new Master of the Guild.
QUEST HUBS & CHARACTERS
Anvil: Palagrius Vinicius’ Quests:
Palagrius is an Imperial, Guardian rank, and a decent hand-to-hand trainer. Coming from a long line of local Fighters Guild members, Palagrius is the current steward of the guildhall. He lives in Anvil, and his oldest son has just joined the guild.
- Wet Feet: A basement has flooded in the sailor’s district, and some slaughterfish have gotten in. Exterminate them.
- Pellus' Debts: A merchant named Pellus Kalanius has run up quite the debt at the Abecette casino. Go shake him out to return the debt.
- Repossess and Return: A nobleman staying in town has ordered an expensive painting made by the Guild of Painters. However, he has bailed on his payments. Find the nobleman, and repossess the painting. Return it to the craftsman who made it.
- Lost in the Lowlands: A rabid Highlands bear has come down from the mountains and terrorizes the trade road. Find its lair and kill it.
- There are some troubles in the back-office in Sutch, run by a man called Azeis. Player is dispatched to help him out on two or three quests.
- Trade is Sacred: A merchant caravaner has decided to hire the local warrior-monk of the Therati Order as caravan guards. This is against the Guild monopoly. Find him and make this clear. The Therati monks are a bit unhinged and don't take this very well -- optionally solve this issue either through dialogue or combat. The caravan can be found at Strid Crossing.
- Night Shift in Seppaki: Thieves are plundering the warehouses in Sepakki. The player must guard the place throughout the night, paying extra attention to three objects (sort of a reversal of thieves quests, player must assume the role of a guard. Quest conflict: the thieves are Kali Mes, and will approach the player with bribes)
- Perils of Thesigir: A gang of bandits has been signaled in a cave called the Thesigir Chasm. Kill their leader. Also, this chasm is said to be home to a legendary animal, a massive troll or bristleback living in the deepest recesses of the place. If you kill it (cool weapon or armor), Palagrius will be very impressed.
Tisius is an Imperial, Guardian rank. A habitual drunk with underhanded connections to the Vintners Guild. The Skingrad Guildhall is kind of uneventful and boring: their biggest problems are usually goblin pests in the vineyards.
- Important Provisions: Pick up a shipment of wine (a bribe) from a vintner for Tisius. Tisius will offer to share the drink with you, depending on wether you accept his offer and subsequent drunk dialogue interaction, further relationship with Tisius will be different (either you gain his friendship and confidence, or he maintains a professional distance. Note that gaining his confidence means some complicity in keeping his dirty deals under wraps -- could maybe backfire later on?).
- Goblins in the Vineyard: a collapsed tunnel has uncovered a nest of goblins hidden beneath one of the vineyards near Sarchal. Exterminate them.
- Desert Visitors: some vintners in the south (near Dethagrad) are complaining of a group of wandering Khajiiti desert tribals who have crossed the hills and made a camp in a remote vineyard. You must convince them to leave. The Khajiit are extremely high on moon sugar, and have no idea where they are or how they got here. Dialogue challenge, but optionally combat.
- Caravan Attacks: Local bandits are known to attack trade caravans on the Gold Road. Investigate an attack site (burned down caravans along the road) and follow tracks to their hideout. Optionally return some valuable goods to the merchant, or keep them for yourself.
- A Strange Porter: The Guild porter working the Sarchal back office is said to behave quite strange. He follows visiting guild members around the office, and watches them as they sleep. People are avoiding the office as a result. Go over there and talk to him.
- Hidden Fangs in Skingrad: Rumors claim that a vampire lives in Skingrad, disguised as a normal person. Uncover the vampire, and rat him out/kill him. Surprise twist: the person who hired the guild to kill the vampire is also a vampire (disguised as local nobility), but one of the Cyrodiil Vampyrum Order which enjoys illicit protection. He merely wants the foreign interloper killed. The player can uncover this fact during the questline, or remain ignorant of this. Of course, if the player is themselves a member of the Order, the quest is entirely different.
- Parwen’s Problems: Parwen, a recent Bosmer recruit, has some problems with family members who stay in the poor part of town. These Bosmer are former tribals who emigrated due to worsening living conditions in Valenwood. They have a hard time adapting to Imperial culture, and some are associating with the thieves guild. This reflects badly on the Guild. Tisius asks the player to intervene discreetly, in order to salvage the reputation of a promising recruit. This could be done by bribing/intimidating the family members into leaving for another town or going back to Valenwood, or by talking to Parwen, or by other options.
- Bounty on Lernius: A bounty has been placed on a local adventurer. Find them and kill them.
The Chorrol guildhall is doing fairly well for itself due to an uptick in succesfull new members. The guildmaster here is - Modryn Oreyn, a humorless Dunmer knight. Also of note are the master smith Sabine Laul, and Vilena Donton, a very successful mercenary who has amassed a fortune and uses it to groom her own personal group outside of the Guild hierarchy. Lives in a mansion in Chorrol with her family. Has ambitions to lead the guild one day.
- Green Recruits: a group of volunteers from Orsinium has recently arrived in Mhorlagrad, hoping to join the Legion. Being veterans from the Warp, these Orcs would prove very useful in the Guild. Head to Mhorlagrad and convince the Orcs to join the Guild, before the Legion recruits them.
- Mad Bull of the Highlands: a revy unusual contract. A minotaur has come down from the hills and "asked" (in their opaque sign language) to talk to someone from the guild. Apparently, one of their own has gone war-mad, and must be killed. However, due to certain taboos, the Minotaurs cannot do this themselves. They have asked for the Guild to send someone to kill their brother for them. Killing a Minotaur in self-defense is normal to Imperials, but going out of your way to look for one to kill is contentious. This is a very delicate affair. The player must also journey to the Minotaur camp to "speak" with various creatures to gain more intel.
- A Warrior's Widow: one of the Guilds’ members has died in the course of an assignment. Go and inform his widow of the event, and hand over her pension and husband’s relics.
This guildhall has connections to the local arena, as well as many large merchant companies and leading members of Colovian nobility. It is more elitist and exclusive than other halls in the area, and has an unusual chivalric streak.
An impoverished guildhall fitting its muddy and derelict location. Bravil’s economic decline has caused local talent to look for opportunities elsewhere. The guild leader is Vorchessa Viriat, an Akaviri-blooded Nibenese of the old Guild families. Despite her heritage, Viriat is looking for innovative and alternative sources of income and talent to counteract the decline of her guildhall. She is more welcoming to the player than the traditionalist Niben guildhalls, and can become a strong supporter given the circumstances. Tadrose Helas is a local Dunmer smith.
[*]A Master of Sand: The Guild steward is looking for new and original combat talent to strengthen her guildhall’s reputation. Rumor claims that Nashi, a famous Elsweyr warrior-monk teacher of the Khajiiti "Rain of Sand" martial arts, has been living as a hermit in the wilderness near Bravil. The player must try to recruit him.
Bruma: Kobakar's Quests
A prosperous guildhall. Within the guild hierarchy, the guildhall and its leader are known to be diplomatic, neutral forces -- in part due to their location in a meeting point between Colovia, Skyrim and the Nibenay. Led by Kobakar, a business-minded steward with a rather liberal, loose approach to the Syffim way. Other notables are Right-Wind, an Argonian longsword trainer with a vendetta against the cold, two Nords, Fulgris the Wide-Eyed and Borost, and Rienna, an exiled Redguard veteran of the recent Dragonstar conflicts.
Cheydinhal: Verathius Hirn's Quests
A very traditional Akaviri-Nibenese guildhall. Some members in the guild maintain relations with the illegal Tiger cult. Verathius Hirn, the guild leader, is Akaviri-Nibenese and a stickler for the Syffim way. His family has been in control of the local guild for generations, and used to have good relations with the ruling Tharns -- a fact which he would rather people forget. Other notables are Burz gro-Kash and Keld of the Isles, respectively Orcish and Nordic immigrants looking to bypass anti-Orcish and anti-Nordic prejudice in the guild, and Elidor, an Altmer who has abandoned his traditionalist Heartlands family for the life of a warrior.
Leyawiin: Sherina's Quests
Formerly a minor office for the benefit of arriving trade ships, the trans-Niben acquisition has led to an expansion in business opportunities. Local leader is Sherina, a Redguard barbarian and long blade teacher who was born and raised in Leyawiin west, near the Khajiiti ghetto. Her knowledge of Khajiit culture and customs gives her great insight into the city.
The Imperial City:
Serpent Hall is the ancient motherhouse of the Fighters Guild, home to some of the most exclusive trainers and smithies. Guild administration resides here, as well as some offices intent on meddling with the provincial chapters. Stendinarius Tero, Imperial battlemage is the Master of the Fighters Guild. An autocratic, humorless leader, son of a long dynasty of Fighters Guild luminaries. Tero is fiercely proud of his Akaviri heritage, and looks down on other races - even other Imperials - who are, in his estimation, best fit to serve as low-ranking fodder in his organization. Though Tero allows the player to take the aptitude tests, he considers them an upstart and soon comes to regret it. His observance of the Syffa Temet Kai is rigid, but formulaic, truer to the letter than the spirit of the law. He is a formidable warrior, wielding the best enchanted weapons and armor the Imperial City can provide, and protected by an array of the finest ancestor silks.
Also of note is Mentor Uan, an Imperial monk and advanced blunt weapon teacher. A retired Master of the Guild, Uan now directs the Imperial Akaviri Theatre, one of the Imperial City’s premier venues. Besides more common fare, the theatre also enacts traditional Tsaesci battle-performances, abstract plays consisting entirely of interpretative unscripted combat scenes. Uan is a serene, dignified teacher, with an encyclopedic knowledge of Akaviri customs and combat maxims. If the player adheres to the Syffim code, Uan takes a liking to them and will support them in the final questline. As his name indicates, Uan is also a member of the elusive Mentor Temple, a Julianite sub-cult.